Parchment Baked Red Mullet Fish With Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Asparagus

After fruit & vegetable markets, I love fish markets next.  I love immersing myself to the different kinds of sea creatures, some with vibrant colors and interesting forms.  This goes especially to the tropical fish and shellfish markets.  They all exude freshness just like the fruits and vegetables.  And, they are healthy food. 

I have always particularly liked pinkish-reddish-orangey fish ever since I was young.  For a kid, it was attractive.  And as a kid, I have always wondered if goldfish can be eaten.  Research tells me that they are edible but they are rarely eaten.  I guess because they are always kept us pets, just like our lone goldfish now who thinks that he's a dog.  He swims excitedly and noisily when I pass his aquarium in the morning. Is it even possible that a fish can act like that when feeding time arrives?  Strange or not, he always gives me a reason to stand up in the morning.  I'm attached to our little red guy.   

There was this kind of medium to big-sized grouper called Lapu-lapu that has a strong orangey-reddish tint (similar to the red mullet but more vibrant) that I was absolutely crazy about.  They also come in other colors like spotted gray but I only ate the red ones.  My mother had to have big patience with me when I was growing up!  Whether it was cooked in fish soup, grilled, fried or steamed, it was the best fish I ever had.  The meat was perfect and there were not so much annoying fish bones to take away.

The bad news is, I cannot find it anywhere in Italy.  I have checked the internet and the translation is cernia.  I've had cernia but the meat is different.  And well, they are not red or orange so.... When I am at the fish shops, there is a particular red kind that catches my attention really well.  It's triglie or red mullet.  See how red they are?  I love them because the meat is very tasty.  They are usually small, and usually deep-fried. 

With this batch of slightly big red mullets that I bought, I decided to make pesce al cartoccio (parchment baked fish).  Easy, simple, no-fuss and healthy.  I simply wrapped them together with some fresh vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes to perk up the taste.  The flavors that came out were wonderful and the fresh, vibrant colors of all the ingredients remained. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  Have a wonderful week!

Parchment Baked Red Mullet Fish With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Asparagus 

Serves 2
  • 2 pieces of parchment paper (big enough to accommodate the fish) + cord to close the ends 
  • 2 red mullet of around 150 g. each (or any kind of white fish), gutted & descaled
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 10 datterini, cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 asparagus spears, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • 6 twigs fresh thyme
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt (adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Lay the pieces of parchment paper on the working area.  Put one red mullet in the middle of each paper.
  2. Divide the following ingredients between the two fish:  asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, thyme and lemon zest.  Insert some thyme inside the stomach of the fish.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the following:  extra virgin olive oil, salt, lemon juice and parsley. Adjust salt if needed.
  4. Pour the sauce on each of the fish.
  5. Close and wrap each fish by tying both ends with a cord.
  6. Bake at a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes in the middle rack.